(Dante, Vita Nuova) To all those driven berserk or humanized by love this is offered, for I need help deciphering my dream. When we love our lord is LOVE. When I recall that at the fourth hour of the night, watched by shining stars, LOVE at last became incarnate, the memory is horror. In his hands smiling LOVE held my burning heart, and in his arms, the body whose greeting pierces my soul, now wrapped in bloodred, sleeping. He made him wake. He ordered him to eat my heart. He ate my burning heart. He ate it submissively, as if afraid, as LOVE wept.
Sex and other Drugs... 
She pressed her lips to mind. —a typo How many years I must have yearned for someone’s lips against mind. Pheromones, newly born, were floating between us. There was hardly any air. She kissed me again, reaching that place that sends messages to toes and fingertips, then all the way to something like home. Some music was playing on its own. Nothing like a woman who knows to kiss the right thing at the right time, then kisses the things she’s missed. How had I ever settled for less? I was thinking this is intelligence, this is the wisest tongue since the Oracle got into a Greek’s ear, speaking sense. It’s the Good, defining itself. I was out of my mind. She was in. We married as soon as we could.
This is not a poem about sex, or even about fish or the genitals of fish, So if you are a fisherman or someone interested primarily in sex, this would be as good a time As any to put another worm on your hook or find a poem that is really about fucking. This, rather, is a poem about language, and about the connections between mind and ear And the strange way a day makes its tenuous progress from almost anywhere. Which is why I've decided to begin with the idea of fish fucking (not literally, mind you, But the idea of fish fucking), because the other day, and a beautiful day it was, in Virginia The woman I was with, commenting on the time between the stocking of a pond and the First day of fishing season, asked me if this was perhaps because of the frequency with which Fish fuck, and—though I myself know nothing at all about the fucking of fish—indeed, I believe From the little biology I know that fish do not fuck at all as we know it, but rather the male Deposits his sperm on the larvae, which the female, in turn, has deposited—yet the question Somehow suggested itself to my mind as the starting point of the day, and from the idea of fish Fucking came thoughts of the time that passes between things and our experience of them, Not only between the stocking of the pond and our being permitted to fish in it, but the time, For example, that passes between the bouncing of light on the pond and our perception of the Pond, or between the time I say the word jujungawop and the moment that word bounces against your Eardrum and the moment a bit further on when the nerves that run from the eardrum to the brain Inform you that you do not, in fact, know the meaning of the word jujungawop, but this, Perhaps, is moving a bit too far from the idea of fish fucking and how beautifully blue the pond was That morning and how, lying among the reeds atop the dam and listening to the water run under it, The thought occurred to me how the germ of an idea has little to do with the idea itself, and how It is rather a small leap from fish fucking to the anthropomorphic forms in a Miró painting, Or the way certain women, when they make love, pucker their lips and gurgle like fish, and how This all points out how dangerous it is for a man or a woman who wants a poet's attention To bring up an idea, even so ludicrous and biologically ungrounded a one as fish fucking, Because the next thing she knows the mind is taking off over the dam from her beautiful face, off Over the hills of Virginia, perhaps as far as Guatemala and the black bass that live in Lake Atitlán who Feast on the flightless grebe, which is not merely a sexual thought or a fishy one, but a thought About the cruelty that underlies even great beauty, the cruelty of nature and love and our lives which We cannot do without and without which even the idea of fish fucking would be ordinary and no larger than Itself, but to return now to that particular day, and to the idea of love, which inevitably arises from the Thought that even so seemingly unintelligent a creature as a fish could hold his loved one, naked in the water, And say to her, softly, Liebes, mein Lubes; it was indeed a beautiful day, the kind filled with anticipation And longing for the small perfections usually found only in poems; the breeze was slight enough just to brush A few of her hairs gently over one eye, the air was the scent of bayberry and pine as if the gods were Burning incense in some heavenly living room, and as we lay among the reeds, our faces skyward, The sun fondling our cheeks, it was as if each time we looked away from the world it took On again a precise yet general luminescence when we returned to it, a clarity equally convincing as pain But more pleasing to the senses, and though it was not such a moment of perfection as Keats or Hamsun Speak of and for the sake of which we can go on for years almost blissful in our joylessness, it was A day when at least the possibility of such a thing seemed possible: the deer tracks suggesting that Deer do, indeed, come to the edge of the woods to feed at dusk, and the idea of fish fucking suggesting A world so beautiful, so divine in its generosity that even the fish make love, even the fish live Happily ever after, chasing each other, lustful as stars through the constantly breaking water.
It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined Half of the night with our old friend Who'd showed us in the end To a bed I reached in one drunk stride. Already I lay snug, And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side. I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug, Suddenly, from behind, In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed: Your instep to my heel, My shoulder-blades against your chest. It was not sex, but I could feel The whole strength of your body set, Or braced, to mine, And locking me to you As if we were still twenty-two When our grand passion had not yet Become familial. My quick sleep had deleted all Of intervening time and place. I only knew The stay of your secure firm dry embrace.
First turn to me after a shower, you come inside me sideways as always in the morning you ask me to be on top of you, then we take a nap, we’re late for school you arrive at night inspired and drunk, there is no reason for our clothes we take a bath and lie down facing each other, then later we turn over, finally you come we face each other and talk about childhood as soon as I touch your penis I wind up coming you stop by in the morning to say hello we sit on the bed indian fashion not touching in the middle of the night you come home from a nightclub, we don’t get past the bureau next day it’s the table, and after that the chair because I want so much to sit you down & suck your cock you ask me to hold your wrists, but then when I touch your neck with both my hands you come it’s early morning and you decide to very quietly come on my knee because of the children you’ve been away at school for centuries, your girlfriend has left you, you come four times before morning you tell me you masturbated in the hotel before you came by I don’t believe it, I serve the lentil soup naked I massage your feet to seduce you, you are reluctant, my feet wind up at your neck and ankles you try not to come too quickly also, you dont want to have a baby I stand up from the bath, you say turn around and kiss the backs of my legs and my ass you suck my cunt for a thousand years, you are weary at last I remember my father’s anger and I come you have no patience and come right away I get revenge and won’t let you sleep all night we make out for so long we can’t remember how we wound up hitting our heads against the wall I lie on my stomach, you put one hand under me and one hand over me and that way can love me you appear without notice and with flowers I fall for it and we become missionaries you say you can only fuck me up the ass when you are drunk so we try it sober in a room at the farm we lie together one night, exhausted couplets and don’t make love. does this mean we’ve had enough? watching t.v. we wonder if each other wants to interrupt the plot; later I beg you to read to me like the Chinese we count 81 thrusts then 9 more out loud till we both come I come three times before you do and then it seems you’re mad and never will it’s only fair for a woman to come more think of all the times they didn’t care
A man in terror of impotence or infertility, not knowing the difference . . . . Adrienne Rich We live in dread of something: Need, perhaps. Tears, the air inside a woman's dress, the deep breath of non-ambition. In a valley of stone, men had to carry stones. In a sea of fertility, women could drown in the wake of conceptions. We no longer build in stone— houses of rice paper, beds of feather. Manhood is the one stone we still insist on, lifting it From abandoned quarries, carrying it on our backs even when we make love, until the woman beneath us calls passion a kind of Suffocation, surfaces for air like a young child whose head has been pushed beneath the water, a way to learn swimming. Did you come? we ask, her head bobbing above the brine that pours from us. Applause is what we want now, Her wet hands clapping in the last wind before she sinks again, before she holds us again so tight we both plunge like a cry for help into the water, Before we fall to the bottom— Stones not even the fish will pause to tell apart.
I want a red dress. I want it flimsy and cheap, I want it too tight, I want to wear it until someone tears it off me. I want it sleeveless and backless, this dress, so no one has to guess what's underneath. I want to walk down the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store with all those keys glittering in the window, past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly, hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders. I want to walk like I'm the only woman on earth and I can have my pick. I want that red dress bad. I want it to confirm your worst fears about me, to show you how little I care about you or anything except what I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment from its hanger like I'm choosing a body to carry me into this world, through the birth-cries and the love-cries too, and I'll wear it like bones, like skin, it'll be the goddamned dress they bury me in.
"It is the future generation that presses into being by means of
these exuberant feelings and supersensible soap bubbles of ours."
"The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open. Our magnolia blossoms. Life begins to happen. My hopped up husband drops his home disputes, and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes, free-lancing out along the razor's edge. This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge. Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust. . . It's the injustice . . . he is so unjust— whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five. My only thought is how to keep alive. What makes him tick? Each night now I tie ten dollars and his car key to my thigh. . . . Gored by the climacteric of his want, he stalls above me like an elephant."
He's supposed to call his doctor, but for now he's the May King with his own Maypole. He's hallelujah. He's glory hole. The world has more women than he can shake a stick at. The world is his brickbat, no conscience to prick at, all of us Germans he can ich lieber dich at. He's Dick and Jane. He's Citizen Kane. He's Bob Dole. He's Peter the Great. He's a czar. He's a clown car with an extra car. Funiculi, Funicula. He's an organ donor. He works pro boner. He's folderol. He's fiddlesticks. He's the light left on at Motel 6. He's free-for-alls. He's Viagra Falls. He's bangers and mash. He's balderdash. He's a wanker. He's got his own anchor. He's whack-a-doodle. King Canoodle. He's a pirate, Long John Silver, walking his own plank. He has science to thank. He's in like Flynn. He's Gunga Din, holding his breath, cock of the walk through the valley of the shadow of death. He's Icarus, hickory dickorous, the mouse run up the clock. He's shock and awe. He's Arkansas. He's the package, the deal, the Good Housekeeping Seal. He's Johnson and Johnson. He's a god now, the talk of the town. He's got no place to go but down.
After the earth finally touches the sun, and the long explosion stops suddenly like a heart run down, the world might seem white and quiet to something that watches it in the sky at night, so something might feel small, and feel nearly human pain. But it won't happen again: the long nights wasted alone, what's done in doorways in the dark by the young, and what could have been for some. Think of all the lovers and the friends! Who does not gather his portion of them to himself. at least in his mind? Sex eased through everyone, even when slipping into death as into a beloved's skin, and prying out again to find the body slumped, muscles slack. and bones begun their turn to dust. Then no one minds when one lover holds another, like an unloaded sack. But the truth enters at the end of life. It enters like oxygen into every cell and the madness it feeds there in some is only a lucid metaphor for something long burned to nothing, like a star. How do you get under your desire? How do you peel away each desire like ponderous clothes, one at a time, until what's underneath is known? We knew genitals as small things and we were ashamed they led us around, even if the hill where we'd lie down was the same hill the universe unfolded upon all night, as we watched the stars, when for once our breathing seemed to blend. Each time, from that sweet pressure of hands, or the great relief of the mouth, a person can be led out of himself Isn't it lonely in the body? The myth says we ooze about as spirits until there's a body made to take us, and only flesh is created by sex. That's why we enter sex so relentlessly, toward the pleasure that comes when we push down far enough to nudge the spirit rising to release, and the pleasure is pleasure of pure spirit, for a moment all together again. So sex returns us to beginning, and we moan. Pure sex becomes specific and concrete in a caress of breast or slope of waist: it flies through itself like light, it sails on nothing like a wing, when someone's there to be touched, when there's nothing wrong. So the actual is touched in sex, like a breast through cloth: the actual rising plump and real, the mind darting about it like a tongue. This is where I wanted to be all along: up in the world, in touch with myself. . . Sex, invisible priestess of a good God, I think without you I might just spin off. I know there's no keeping you close, as you flick by underneath a sentence on a train, or transform the last thought of an old nun, or withdraw for one moment alone. Who tells you what to do or ties you down! I'd give up the rest to suck your dark lips. I'd give up the rest to fix you exact in the universe, at the wildest edge where there's no such thing as shape. What a shame I am, if reaching the right person in a dim room, sex holds itself apart from us like an angel in an afterlife, and, with the ideas no one has even dreamed, it wails its odd music for pure mind. After there's nothing, after the big blow-up of the whole shebang, what voice from what throat will tell me who I am? Each throat on which I would have quietly set my lips will be ripped like a cheap sleeve or blown apart like the stopped-up barrel of a gun. What was inside them all the time I wanted always to rest my mouth upon? I thought most everything stuck dartlike in the half-dome of my brain, and hung there like fake stars in a planetarium. It's true that things there changed into names, that even the people I loved were a bunch of signs, so I felt most often alone. This is a way to stay alive and nothing to bemoan. We know the first time we extend an arm: the body reaches so far for so long. We grow and love to grow, then stop, then lie down. I wanted to bear inside me this tender outcome. I wanted to know if it made sex happen: does it show up surely in touch and talk? does it leak from the mind, as heat from the skin? I wanted my touching intelligent, like a beautiful song.
The mayor, in order to marry us, borrowed a necktie from a lawyer which, on him, looked stupid and kept his eye on a red pigeon which somehow got in to coo her disappointment, if only for the record, though one of the two witnesses who kicked the red got only what she deserved and that was that, except that the rain cooed too, but we didn't give a shit for we had a bed, for God's sake, with two tin buckets of blossoms waiting for us; and someone there of Greek persuasion enacted the dancing though somewhat lickerish and turned to reading the names of the dead from World War I the other side of the bandstand but we didn't care nor did we know her name nor where she came from or what the necktie or what our love had to do with it anyhow, mostly nothing.
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.